You are currently viewing Quotas for women will enhance gender parity

Quotas for women will enhance gender parity

THE recent pronouncement by Government that it will soon propose some legislative and policy reforms to ensure that all political parties adopt legislated quotas and affirmative action for women is not only heartening but a critical step towards attaining gender parity.
The move is also unwavering evidence that the PF government under the able leadership of President Lungu is determined on leaving behind a legacy of gender equality.
It is not a secret that under President Lungu’s leadership we’ve had a number of women being appointed to key decision-making positions which were previously monopolised by men.
The key appointments include first female Vice-President Inonge Wina, first female Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima, First female Director of Public Prosecutions Lilian Siyuni and first female deputy speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala.
And against the backdrop of low female representation in Parliament, the head of State was able to raise female representation in cabinet from 11.7 in 2011 to 36.6 percent this year.
Female representation in Parliament stands at 18.2 percent and this can be attributed to the low adoption rate of female candidates across all political parties.
Despite campaigns by various gender activists for political parties to adopt more women, it is clear not much progress has been made.
And gender advocacy groups such as Non-Governmental Organisation, Coordinating Council (NGOCC) have cited legal impediments, poverty and lack of financial resources as some of the factors that hinder women from taking part in politics and later on competing fairly.
It is clear that despite so much sensitisation, society as reflected in political processes has continued to be biased towards the male gender which continues to disproportionately access various services and benefits.
Given this scenario, setting aside quotas for women in decision-making positions is the sure way to attain the 50 percent female representation as per Zambia’s commitments under the 2008 SADC Gender Protocol.
Government will therefore do well to support the enactment of the Political Parties Act as provided by the amended Republican Constitution that ensures a quota of 50 percent women representation in the political process.
This will compel political parties to reserve a fair share of decision-making positions for women both within their structures and in the adoption processes.
However, these legislative and policy reforms should also be extended to the corporate and indeed other sectors.
For instance, companies should have quotas for female representation at board level, top management and indeed any committee constituted.
Given the importance of gender parity in the development of any country, it is our hope that when these legislative reforms are finally proposed our able law-makers will unite in support, regardless of gender, political affiliation and even religion.
As we await, these reforms it is time for women to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunity.
Zambia is not short of capable women, all that is needed is for them to come to the fore and offer themselves to the service of this great nation.
With quotas, women will have no excuse for not taking up decision-making positions.
However, we will need to guard against filling these quotas just for the sake of gender parity but ensure that only women capable of delivering are given these opportunities.